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Burns & McDonnell project profile: DFW Airport Terminal Renewal & Improvement Program

DFW Airport Terminal Renewal & Improvement Program, Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

By Burns & McDonnell August 13, 2019
DFW aerial1: DFW Airport Terminal E underwent an extensive renovation, along with construction of a new multi-deck parking facility (shown in background).

Engineering firm: Burns & McDonnell

2019 MEP Giants rank: 3

2019 Commissioning Giants rank: 2

Project: DFW Airport Terminal Renewal & Improvement Program (TRIP) — Terminals A, B & E

Location: Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, U.S.

Building type: Airport, parking facility

Project type: Existing building retrofit, new construction

Engineering services: Automation, controls; commissioning, retro-commissioning; electrical, power; energy, sustainability; HVAC, mechanical; lighting; plumbing, piping

Project timeline: November 2016 to May 2018

MEP/FP budget: $520,000,000

Commissioning budget: $21,000,000


A comprehensive airport retrofit is an extremely complex mega-project that requires intensive coordination and communication. Because of the high level of MEP and commissioning scope, coordination of various project phases and packages was challenging throughout most of the program. Being able to maintain quality and implement effective field testing of systems and equipment, while not impacting schedule or budget, was an absolute must. In addition, two other significant challenges were encountered:

  • Project closeout: In the beginning of the program, the closeout period was taking an average of three months or longer to complete. This was a challenge in that it was posing a risk to schedule delays.
  • Stakeholder engagement and involvement: In the beginning of the TRIP, many relevant stakeholders were not looped in with the detailed information they needed to provide effective insight into various project elements. In some cases, owner requirements were not addressed at the correct time and/or delayed until near the end of various project phases. This caused significant impacts on schedule and created budget stress in some instances when funding was not available to implement an owner directive.

Image 2: DFW Airport Terminals A, B, C and D underwent extensive renovations, including more than $500 million in MEP project scope.


In order to address the primary challenge of coordination and communication, the commissioning team set up additional meetings, as well as an off-hours schedule to complete the majority of the function testing that was required. With additional commissioning agent input, the prime contractor gained necessary insight into how to complete installation and finish out certain locations, based on system layout instead of area layout.

The second challenge related to project closeout was resolved when the commissioning team developed a detailed flowchart with specific steps that would be required for the closeout process. Several guidance meetings were scheduled and by the end of the program, the closeout duration was taking an average of 45 days, approximately one-half the time it was previously taking.

Resolution of the third challenge (stakeholder engagement) involved setting up a robust process of communication protocols that were followed in project phase kickoff meetings. This enabled all relevant stakeholder concerns to be surfaced during design phases, rather than later when construction packages were already underway. The Cx team played a crucial role in tracking these items throughout the project phases, ensuring all stakeholder requirements were met.

DFW Airport Terminal E underwent an extensive renovation, along with construction of a new multi-deck parking facility (shown in background).

In total, these solutions and others resulted in more than $2.5 million in avoided and deferred maintenance costs, combined with energy savings. These savings will be realized during ongoing operations for the four TRIP projects that were commissioned. By using Cx professionals with defined areas of technical expertise, a high level of technical review led to fewer construction change orders needed to address design concerns.

As with any project of this size and scale, communication is crucial and this is highly dependent on forming great relationships. With the involvement of the Cx team in close coordination with TRIP project managers, many elements of project scope were specifically tailored to eliminate costly unknowns. Understanding client needs throughout the construction schedule reduced project costs and satisfied owner requirements that would otherwise be unaccounted for.

Burns & McDonnell